Vera Lutter’s Egypt series
It is fascinating to me that these enormous buildings have been left alone and are in a natural state of deterioration within the magical landscape of the desert.
Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present photographs from Vera Lutter’s Egypt series.
In Lutter’s conceptual approach to the camera obscura, the apparatus records the outside world in a direct and immediate way. By choosing to retain the negative image as her final printed work, Lutter transforms the visual facts of her chosen environments into scenes reflecting on the twin realities of space and time. Her exposures can take days, or in some cases months, to produce and correlate with the scale of the photograph. Akin to x-rays, in these exposures the most stable and permanent aspects of environments emerge as spectral foci. And nowhere is this relationship between time and form more pronounced than in the recordings of the massive buildings that populate the deserts of Egypt.
Lutter’s Egypt series is as much a record of undisturbed ancient architecture as the scope of restrictions and prohibitions that she encountered. She produced these photographs using an empty suitcase transformed into a covert camera obscura, lined with photosensitive paper. Thus each of these works conforms to the dimensions of the improvised device, producing a scale that is much more intimate than in previous series.
Traveling through Egypt in early 2010 Lutter’s experiences with local laws forbidding photography of these monuments and suspicion of her photographic apparatus guided her to the pyramids and landscapes that she finally chose as her subjects. Largely preserved by national regulations, these timeless and enigmatic monuments, including the Meidum Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid in Dahshur, appear splendidly isolated, devoid of any trace of contemporary life. Lutter also gained rare access to the Kom Ombo Temple, where she captures tourists as barely perceptible specters against the majestic architectural backdrop.
Vera Lutter was born in Germany and lives and works in New York. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Neue Galerie, New York and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Major solo exhibitions include Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1999); Kunsthalle Basel (2001). Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2002); Kunsthaus Graz, Austria (2004); Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (2005); and Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2008). In the summer of 2012, Carré d’art Musée d’Art contemporain in Nimes will open a retrospective of Lutter’s work; and this past year, Lutter was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet, the world’s leading prize in photography and sustainability.